Photo by Nathan Gross
The offseason of the UVU women’s soccer team was highlighted by former head coach Brent Anderson stepping down in favor of an assistant coach position at BYU, as the team announced Jan. 13. New head coach Chris Lemay, whose subsequent hiring was announced Feb. 21, has already brought in Rachel Boaz and Seth Trembly to join the coaching staff and wants to get the season off to a positive start Aug. 18, when the season kicks off in Honolulu, Hawaii against the University of Hawaii.
Conference play does not start until Oct. 6, but Lemay has loaded the nonconference schedule with quality opponents such as BYU, Wyoming, UNLV, and Texas A&M. This will give the squad valuable experience before WAC conference games arrive.
“We’re excited that we get to go to Hawaii to open the season. We are excited that we get to go to Las Vegas, California, Oklahoma, Texas, Chicago, and Seattle. We’re looking forward to getting that experience and having the ability to see different parts of the country,” Lemay said in a statement to GoUVU.com. “We’re excited to play in different environments, experience different things and play against good opponents. Every place we go to is going to have two goals and a field that is roughly 120 yards by 80 yards. We’ll play anywhere. Our non-conference schedule is really strong and we’ve scheduled it tough on purpose.”
Lemay will be working with an experienced squad in his first season with the Wolverines. Seven starters from last season return to the team, including last season’s leading scorer, Alexis Peterson, and starting goalkeeper Brooklyn Nielsen. The squad also includes a preseason All-WAC player, Breanna DeWaal, a sophomore midfielder who led the conference in shots while being named to the All-WAC conference first team as a freshman last season.
Players like DeWaal will be key for the squad to continue its streak of three straight seasons with at least 10 wins. The Preseason WAC poll predicts UVU will finish in fourth this season. Lemay will look to improve upon what Anderson left last season, when the team finished fifth in the conference and was eliminated by Seattle in the second round of the WAC tournament. Something to improve from last season will be the record away from Clyde Field. Last season the team had a 4-5-1 record on the road but boasted a 5-2-1 record on its home field.
Multiple UVU players played for clubs over the summer in preparation for the season. Five players saw action on the pitch for Real Salt Lake Women: Nielsen, Tara Furlong, Peterson, Sara Callister and Hannah Bruce. Other players in action over the summer included defender Sarah Cipperley and forward Tori Smith, who both played for the Santa Clarita Blue Heat and defender Leesa Stowe, who played for LA Galaxy San Diego.
“We’ve got an unbelievable group of returners this year,” Lemay said to GoUVU.com. “We’re thrilled with the experience and leadership abilities that they are going to bring. There is a core group of really great players, good students and tremendous athletes coming back.”